The state of California announced in August that it had awarded a $35 million contract to SKDKnickerbocker to produce materials to encourage voters to participate in the November election.
The firm will run California’s “Vote Safe California” campaign and will work to increase turnout.
The firm, SKDKnickerbocker, proudly says that it is “Team Biden” on its website. Its managing director Anita Dunn is a senior aide for Democratic nominee Joe Biden's campaign.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla stands next to a pallet with voting ballots, after a news conference on Orange County’s comprehensive plans to safeguard election and provide transparency in Santa Ana, Calif., Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. The Registrar of Voters for Orange County, Calif., is the fifth largest voting jurisdiction in the United States, serving more than 1.6 million registered voters. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
"Tucker Carlson Tonight" has obtained SKDKnickerbocker’s contract proposal to the state of California. In it, the firm stated that the “Vote Safe California” initiative will need to “overcome” a range of “challenges.” One of those challengers is overcoming “fear and misinformation with facts.”
"The President and his allies, including those in certain corners of the media, continually repeat false claims that voting by mail is uniquely susceptible to fraud,” SKDK wrote in its proposal. "It’s not, and we need to make that clear.”
The firm went on to single out President Trump by name.
"Viral messaging is already circulating that ballots need to be returned far before Election Day because of issues in the U.S. Postal Service, and President Trump himself recently tweeted that the election should be delayed as vote-by-mail can’t be trusted (which was debunked by other users on the platform). Who knows what the next claim will be?” the proposal reads.
A spokeswoman for Democratic California Secretary of State Alex Padilla claimed in August that “this is a nonpartisan effort."
SKDK included the resumes of the contractors that would be working on the project. The list includes several Democratic operatives with the Obama White House, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., on their resumes.
Reps. James Comer, R-Ky., Rodney Davis, R-Ill., and Jody Hice, R-Ga., sent a letter to Patricia Layfield, Inspector General of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, requesting an investigation of the "highly questionable" contract. Comer is ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
In this June 26, 2020 file photo, Gov. Gavin Newsom holds a face mask as he urges people to wear them to fight the spread of the coronavirus during a news conference in Rancho Cordova, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)
"This was a no-bid contract awarded to a partisan company," Comer told "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on Monday. "To get out the vote, they’re going to have to microtarget voters. In order to do that, they’re going to have to have sensitive voter data from the secretary of state’s office. … We’re not going to let this go."
"Documents … appear to show that the California Secretary of State’s Office is attempting to use Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant money from the CARES Act to fund the contract. If true, this is a violation of law," the lawmakers wrote in a letter obtained by "Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
HAVA grants cannot be used for get-out-the-vote campaigns, and California's contract with SKDK appears to use $12 million in federal funds, the lawmakers pointed out. Under its contract, SKDK will be "highly encouraged to subcontract with a get-out-the-vote (GOTV) targeting expert."
The lawmakers said they contacted California Secretary of State Alex Padilla about the treatment of sensitive voter information on Sept. 16 but did not receive a response.
"Additionally, it is unclear how SKD will be able to conduct GOTV without having access to voter information,” the letter to Layfield states. "For example, in its proposal, SKD proposes using eight percent of the $35 million budget on mail. Specifically, the proposal states, 'a direct mail program can deliver a tailored message to a micro-targeted universe of individuals.' "
Many congressional races are expected to be close in California.
The lawmakers want Inspector General Layfield to "immediately investigate” the use of federal funds for getting-out-the vote efforts.
"Any attempts to improperly use federal taxpayer money are not only unacceptable but unlawful," Comer, Davis and Hice wrote.
TCT’s inquiries to SKDKnickerbocker and the California Secretary of State’s office were not returned at the time of publication.